Louisville's Pitino had controversial Hawaii ties

Published: Apr. 8, 2013 at 7:12 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 8, 2013 at 7:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Louisville and Michigan meet Monday in the NCAA men's basketball championship game.

If Louisville wins, head coach Rick Pitino will be the first coach in college basketball history to win a national championship title with two different schools. He led Kentucky to the title in 1996.

Coach Pitino was also officially elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.

Pitino has had a storied coaching career, a career that began at the University of Hawaii.

Pitino started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the UH in 1974, and became a full-time assistant in 1975.

Pitino became UH's head coach during the 1975–76 season after Bruce O'Neil was fired, Pitino led Hawaii for the final six games, going 2–4.

Pitino's time in Hawaii was not without controversy.

In 1989, the Lexington Herald-Leader and the New York Times cited a 1977 NCAA report on sanctions against the University of Hawaii.

According to the report, Pitino was implicated in eight of the 64 infractions that led the university to be placed on probation.

The violations involving Pitino included providing round-trip air fare for a player between New York and Honolulu, arranging for student-athletes to receive used cars for season tickets, and handing out coupons to players for free food at McDonald's.

The NCAA committee on infractions recommended in 1977 that Pitino and O'Neil be disassociated from Hawaii athletics.

In 1989 Pitino told reporters, "One thing you won't have to worry about is cheating with Rick Pitino. It didn't happen in Hawaii as far as I'm concerned." Pitino added, "I was a graduate assistant. I didn't make any mistakes, I don't care what anybody says."

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